I grew up reading the original version of the NIV. It translated 1 Cor. 13:5 -- Love "is not rude."
The "new" edition of the NIV translates it, Love "does not dishonor others..."
The New American Standard translates this same phrase, “…does not act unbecomingly.”
So what is the literal meaning of the Greek here?
“Aschemoneo” is a Greek verb that means “to act rudely, wildly, improperly or unbecomingly…"
By implication we might use it this way, "That person lacks tact... They need to think about others before they speak unnecessarily hurtful and unkind words, or act in ways that are hurtful, disrespectful and rude."
AGAPE doesn’t shy away from speaking truth (as we'll see a little later in this passage), All of us have been called onto the carpet and held respsonsible by people whom we KNOW love us and have our best in mind. AGAPE never holds back from doing this. But AGAPE always acts and speaks from a perspective that values people and seeks other's best in light of God's Truth.
In Romans Paul calls us to intentionally do the OPPOSITE of aschemoneo when he says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans `12:10) The word “honor” here means to “value” and not just in an arbitrary way. God gives us a powerful and clear motivation for doing this—because each of us as brothers and sisters in Christ are VALUED by God. As John wrote, "We love, becase He first loved us." (1 John 4:19).
Every Christ-follower has been redeemed by the precious and priceless blood of the Lamb. Each of us is a sinner saved by the same grace. And all of us have received our Lord’s command to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
Jesus didn’t just say, “Love one another…” He qualified exactly HOW we are to love each other when he said, “… as I have loved you.” To maintain a crystal clear understanding of what Jesus meant by these words, all we need to do is imagine Christ dying on the cross for us. This is how Christ loves us and this is how he calls us to love our fellow Christ-followers.
The Cross is the ultimate example of what it means to value and honor others above self. So, when Paul says in 1 Cor. 13:5 that “AGAPE does not dishonor others,” He is saying AGAPE never treats people like they are of “lesser value.” It never looks down it's nose at others. It values people highly and treats them with respect and dignity.
As Christ followers we are called to AGAPE (note it's a verb, not a noun) our enemies and our neighbors, i.e. everyone. And we are called ESPECIALLY to AGAPE our fellow Christ-followers.
John 13:34 “Love one another as I have loved you…” was NOT spoken to unbelievers, but to Christ-followers—for ONLY Christ followers understand personaly and intimately how Christ-has loved us. Only Christ followers know that His love for us is not given on the condition of our “deserving it” or “earning it.” And so in like manner our love for others and for our fellow Christ-followers cannot be conditional.
I know... that’s a lot to take in isn’t it?
Friends, this is why we have awesome promises like “For God is working in you, giving you the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases him.” (Phil 2:13)
Friends we cannot pull off a life of AGAPE on our own strength.
“I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me (plugged in) and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do NOTHING.” (John 15:5)
The Christian life is not a “natural” life. It’s a “super national life.” We don't receive the Holy Spirit just to make us feel good. He comes as a source of POWER. (Act. 1:8) The purpose of a MISSION--that we might LIVE as AGAPE AMBASSADORS for Christ. He comes to empower, motivate, convict, encourage and guide our steps. We can walk in AGAPE ---- ONLY ---- when we stay connected to Jesus and daily allow His Holy Spirit to direct our lives.
Stay “plugged-in” to Jesus today my friend and allow Him to produce in your life the FRUIT of AGAPE that honors others!
Thanks for reading. If you are enjoying this study--I think you'll totally enjoy Joyce Meyer's book on this subject (below). I encourage you to check it out!
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